Showing posts from September, 2012

working from plans

Here, on top you can see G's original representation of a machine, a set of taped-together pieces from the box of plastic materials. It wasn't very sturdy, or satisfying.  On the table to the left, you can see the plan and the second rendition of the machine in progress, this time its parts were made with cardboard and wood. I find it remarkable how the process of thinking through an idea while drawing (or telling, or building) a plan for work focuses both the thoughts and the hands.

Raising your hand

Today in a meeting I was listening to some teachers of older children talking about scaffolding group processes and how difficult it is to make sure everyone has a chance to ask questions and express their views. Why do some students do all the talking and others sit quietly or tune out altogether? Susan pointed out that in adult conversations we tend to know when to talk and when not to, just by reading visual and auditory cues. Later in a conversation I tried to notice some of those subtle cues, like glances or shifts in eye contact and slight pauses.

So I started thinking  ...are we teachers cheating children out of a chance to learn to read those conversational cues by asking them to raise their hands every time they want to speak?  Are there trade-offs between classroom management used to maintain order, and natural opportunities for learning? Do we who teach younger children create a culture of shout-outing, talking over each other or tuning out of conversations in late childho…

Q. and A. teaching specific art skills

Someone asked a good question on a recent post; " I am very interested to read your further explorations on this topic. My kids will often ask me "how do I draw a horse?" or "how can I make this lego tower taller?" and because I am not trained in the constructivist approach, I feel like my two options are to say "well how do YOU think you should draw a horse?" (which, presumably, they don't know or they wouldn't be asking), or to show them how to draw a horse, which feels like cheating and/or robbing them of their process. So I'm very interested in the notion of how to teach specific art skills (shading, perspective, body shapes, diminesion) using a constructivist approach. How do you do that? What do you do when a kid asks you "how do you draw a horse?" or "how do I make this ball look real instead of flat?"
This is a tough one, and I hope it can be more of a dialog than just me talking.

First of all, I'm not sur…

the start of a new school year

Trying to think of something to write about here, I ask myself 'what have I done in these first weeks of school?' It is all sort of a blur. Working out a new schedule, responding to questions and requests from teachers, staff and helpers, trying not to miss any of the meetings I am supposed to go to, and putting away the mountain of stuff that appeared over the summer has taken most of the time. I can't wait to get into a groove where I actually have time to reflect on my interactions with children. Hopefully that will begin to happen soon, cause that's what I like best.

Scientists of magic

After just a short time back to school, several investigations have emerged involving mystery and big wonderings. It is fascinating to see how scientific inquiry and the possibility of magic are so intertwined in the minds of children. 
In the second grade, children are thinking about the guiding question 'who was here before us?' They are devising ways of researching the people who must have lived on the land in colonial times, and what all of the stones and cast iron objects are in the walled garden, but also if any magical creatures may have lived nearby long ago. I can't talk about the experiment they have devised yet, but I will share their conviction that if successful, it will not only answer some of their questions, but also prove that magic is real  (or not).

Meanwhile, kindergartners are trying to figure out more about a tree in the garden that has a brick wall inside of it (it really does). Some of the children think there is a magical doorway there, and so they …